Archive for May, 2009

The Haunting Guilt

Few years ago, I went to Varanasi (U.P.). I was standing outside the railway station, waiting for an auto-rickshaw. Suddenly,a boy aged not more than 10 years, came to me. He was selling roasted peanuts – 5 rupees for 100 grams. He looked very poor, having almost negligible cloths and no footwear. It seemed that he had not taken bath for days. He had some scars on his hands and a group of houseflies kept hovering over him. He asked me to take some of the peanuts.

I felt very sorry for him. “A boy of his age should go to school and play with his peers in spare time and not sell groundnuts” – my heart was constantly reminding me. I felt pity on all such people in the world and decided to help the boy. I looked inside my wallet and got a 20-rupee note. Since the groundnuts were not appealing at all, I gave the 20-rupee note to the boy and asked him to sell those groundnuts to other people.

Immediately, an auto-rickshaw came to my way and I started my journey towards Sarnath – where Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon. Barely after 20 meters I saw the boy who was selling groundnuts, running parallel to my auto-rickshaw. I asked the auto-rickshaw driver to stop but he was not in the mood to disrupt his journey for a poor boy. He said ” Madam you don’t get involved with such people; if you help them once, they will demand another help.”

 Before I could say anything to the driver, the boy threw the 20-rupee note inside the auto-rickshaw, cried from a distance – “Sister, I donot take money for free; if you are not intrested in my peanuts,I cannot take money from you” and fled.

I was shattered by his act.  My eyes became wet and my heart beated faster, as if I had committed a crime. How could a boy so poor, do that? How could a person badly in need of money, refuses money?  I cursed myself for not buying the peanuts. I wanted to help him but I couldn’t. 

From then, whenever I see a poor man (specially a child) selling something, I prefer to buy it,  instead of offerring him some money.  The guilt of not buying peanuts from that boy still haunts me.

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